Weekends are made for sleeping in. You wake up when the mood strikes and you enjoy a slow-paced relaxing morning, maybe reading the paper, drinking coffee, lounging in bed. Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, which means that we will need to set our clocks back at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. Many people set their clocks back Saturday night before bed so they are able to get an “extra” hour of sleep. But is this the best method to adjust to the time change?
Our bodies have a natural clock that is a cluster of neurons deep inside the brain. It generates the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. The cycle spans roughly 24 hours. According to Dr. Alfred Lewy, director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory in Portland, “Our body needs a signal every day to reset it. The signal is sunlight, which shines in through the eyes and corrects the cycle from approximately 24 hours to precisely 24 hours,” said Lewy. With the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles not lining up due to the time change, it can cause you to feel out-of-sync, tired and grumpy.
Here are 4 ways to help you adjust to the time change:
- Wake Up at a Normal Time on Sunday Morning
Many people see this time change as an excuse to stay up late on Saturday or sleep in an extra hour longer on Sunday. But sleeping in beyond your normal wake-up time can cause your body confusion and lead to you feeling out of sorts.
Try to get up at your regular time and use the extra hour for some fun family time.
- Eat Well and Exercise
An active lifestyle and a healthy diet can work wonders for your sleeping. Plan to use that extra hour to the fullest by taking a walk and then cook up a hearty and nutritious breakfast.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Sunday Night
Make sure your room is ready for an earlier bedtime on Sunday by making it a sleep zone. Keep your bedroom cool and dark, and leave your gadgets outside the bedroom to give you minimal distractions, ensuring you have the perfect sleeping environment.
- Be Patient
Know that your body will adjust naturally with time. It may take a few days to feel back to normal, but your body will adjust to the new light-dark cycle.
Remember that with the time change we will get to wake an hour earlier to the sunshine, which can be much more enjoyable in the long run.
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Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.
First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.
About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.
Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.
Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.
Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.
Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.
Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety.
These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.
Have you ever had trouble sleeping when you are in a new place? Do you toss and turn or easily wake when you travel or sleep somewhere other than your own bedroom? If so, you are not alone. According to a new study published in the journal “Current Biology,” it is a very normal occurrence for your first night’s sleep in new surroundings to be less than satisfactory.
Researchers at Brown University found that, similar to some animals, only half of the human brain “sleeps” the first night a person sleeps in a new environment. Research showed that the left hemisphere of the brain, the more logical and analytical side, was still actively “awake” throughout the night. The researchers believe that it is our brain’s way of “keeping watch” in unfamiliar territory. Though humans no longer worry about predators lurking in the darkness, our brains evolved during a time when that threat was very real.
So next time you are traveling or house sitting, plan accordingly, because your first night of sleep away from home will most likely not be as good as usual.
For more information, check out NPR’s article, “Half Your Brain Stands Guard When Sleeping In A New Place.”
It is 6:23 am and the alarm clock is going off again. You hit that snooze button for the 3rd time. Every extra 10 minutes of sleep feels like heaven in the morning, but is it the best use of time? Are we really getting more rest in those few extra minutes?
Instead of hitting the snooze button, there are many things we can accomplish to get a better start to our day. Here is a list of just 10 things that we could do if we didn’t squeeze in those extra minutes.
- Make your bed
- Enjoy your morning shower
- Eat a full healthy breakfast
- Answer important emails
- Check the weather
- Pack a tasty and nutritious lunch
- Double check you have everything and are not forgetting essential items
- Take your time and enjoy your cup of coffee or tea, or treat yourself to a cup from your favorite coffee shop
- Get to work on time
- Enjoy not being stressed and rushed
Start your day off right and don’t hit that snooze button. Have the peace of mind that you have everything accomplished in the morning so you can focus on the tasks of the day.
It’s 6 am and you are startled awake out of a deep sleep by a horrific beeping noise. You groggily open your eyes and try to find the source of that annoying noise. Then your brain catches up and you realize it is your alarm clock.
Vast majorities of people use alarm clocks almost daily. They are hard to live without, as they ensure that we wake up early for work, school or other functions. But are alarm clocks really helpful?
The answer is YES! Natural light is better to wake up to than an alarm clock.
According to research by the National Institute of Industrial Health in Japan, although using an alarm clock maybe the most popular choice, waking up to a jolting noise can be bad for your heart. Waking up abruptly can cause higher blood pressure and heart rate. Besides increasing your blood pressure, an alarm can also increase stress levels by getting your adrenaline rushing.
There is another option for waking up to the shrilling of an alarm clock: letting your body wake naturally to light.
Here are a few simple tips to try:
- Crack your blinds/curtains so natural light can enter your room.
- Position your bed so the sun strikes it at an appropriate time of day.
- Try to wake up at the same time every day, including weekends, so your body can become accustomed to a new sleep schedule.
- If you need to wake up before the sun rises, try using a timer for your bedroom lights.
Try implementing these tips into your routine for a better and healthier start to the day!